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American Made


Stars: Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright, Caleb Landry Jones, Jesse Plemons, William Mark McCullough, Alejandro Edda

Director: Doug Liman

A pretty untypical Tom Cruise film, this extraordinary true story also contains one of the star's best performances.

He plays Barry Seal, a TWA pilot who is approached by the CIA to take aerial photographs of Central American rebel forces. But he also becomes involved with Colombia drug peddlers, led by Jorge Ochoa (Edda), ferrying their goods to Florida, before himself being re-located from Louisiana to Arkansas by his miffed CIA contact (Gleeson).

Liman's film rushes us breathlessly from one location to another, with the ever-grinning Seal thinking on his feet but always one flight away from the federal penitentiary. Maverick, the monicker assumed by Cruise in his great hit Top Gun, certainly fits his character here, flying by the seat of his pants and escaping retribution, sometimes miraculously, by the skin of his gleaming teeth.

For once, handheld camerawork works to the film's advantage, underlining the edginess and immediacy of Seal's charmed life, ended only when his wife's (Wright) idiot brother (Jones) throws a spanner in the works.

Cruise is pretty much the whole show here, carrying through the character's helter-skelter adventures with deceptively relaxed ease (and even being credited as one of the film's stunt pilots). Director Liman meanwhile maintains the film's lung-busting style all the way through.

David Quinlan

USA 2017. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour (unspecified).
109 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 23 Aug 2017